How to Acquire Real Fans for Your Social Media Marketing Spend

…buy Twitter Followers in our website, starting at $29 USD / 5k Followers…

DON’T DO IT

If you don’t get at least 1 spam solicitation a week for purchased followers via your social media accounts or via email, consider yourself lucky. Scam artists are always looking for the inexperienced social media marketer to make their money. You already know that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” and profile scammers would be extinct, but, as long as there are buyers, there will be takers. Inexperienced social media clients often ask if they should buy followers because their established competitor has thousands.

Insights tell all

You may not have access to your competitors insights and analytics, but you can judge a book by its cover in this instance. Start following your competitors and note whether their posts, tweets, and photos garner engagement. Isn’t it interesting how an account with thousands of followers often gets disproportionately few likes, retweets, reposts, shares, or comments?

There are 2 main reasons for that; 1) they are lousy at posting, but more likely, 2) they have a base of artifically acquired followers irrelevant to their business. Those so-called followers are not responding or even noticing the posts – that is, if they even exist in real life! So while the competitor may tout a huge fan base, their success is shallowly based only in that number, not in results.

Quantity vs. Quality

Gone are the days when quantity was critical to the perception of a successful social media account. Landing pages (no longer permitted) were created as tools requiring a “like” before entry for contests, deals, yadayada, to acquire new followers – and lots of them. Slowly, it became very evident that many new followers became fans just for the freebie or perk – the attraction being the giveaway and not your goods and services. Unlikes followed or your business simply ignored.

Marketing is marketing whether on or offline. Ever had an event for your brick and mortar focused on giveaways and contests? The results? You probably got enough warm leads with real sales to cover the cost of the event and little more. If you aren’t attracting the right prospects with any method of marketing, you lose.

That’s not to say a big marketing campaign can’t be fruitful, but new and inexperienced small business owners often do not use proven tracking methods for an accurate ROI of their market spend. Year after year they spend on repeat “perceived” successful events without knowing the reality to make revisions for real success. Again, they can talk about how many people attended the event, but inquire about results and you may get an ambiguous reply.

Retention or Acquisition?

Social media business account holders are becoming savvy to the reach of a quality following because they learn that retention, more than acquisition, is the best way to keep and grow business. If you follow a successful formula in your business, you will get referrals.

Customers with needs/desires that match your goods/services

+    Excellence in Customer Service
————————————————

= PROFIT

Bottom Line?

Remember: Buying followers and contacts is as effective as inviting a whole community of strangers to your party – most come for the free food and leave without even remembering your name. Invite specifically those to your “marketing party” who can benefit from your products and services, then wow them with your service. They’ll not only remember your name, they’ll refer you to others.

Every Santa Needs a Break! Put a Bench in Your Store

Every Santa Needs a Break!

Have you considered available seating as an integral part of customer service?

The weary, bag laden, and soon impatient non-shopper leaves to shop elsewhere or coaxes the rest of the groups to leave. It’s a lose-lose for you and your shoppers. So, why encourage the non-shopper to become grumpy and negatively influence your happy shoppers?

The most overlooked fixture for your store could be a simple bench.

A bench (or seating of any type) is an important facet of good customer service and therefore, an item with a deceptively good ROI. For mostly unjustified reasons, small shop owners often have a negative mindset toward extra seating in a store.

Rethink. During the holidays, gift shoppers are often in groups – family, visiting relatives, vacationing couples. And they get weary. And since not every member of the group wants to shop in your particular store, there is that awkward, and often uncomfortable, situation of waiting for others to shop. Big deal, you say? You’re not in the business of providing seating?

Everyone stays!

Small business brick and mortar is typically limited in floor space, but there is always place for a strategically positioned chair or bench. Isn’t it better if no one leaves until the active shoppers are done shopping your establishment? You may even leave a positive visual imprint for the next shopping visit. They’ll remember, “They have a place where I can sit.”

And because of certain health issues, seating may be a requirement during long shopping days. Do you want anyone to avoid your establishment due to lack of seating for Aunt Sally with her arthritic knees?

Do be mindful of positioning seating in a positive manner. Find a spot that creates a sense of belonging rather than of being placed in a cramped corner. And if you are a clothing store, place seating near the dressing room to enable “show and tell.” Shoppers are more likely to buy when they can get that “second opinion.”

Seating means comfort

Ask other shop owners who DO have seating in their store. What benefits are they reaping?

They’ll likely tell you potentially grumpy and impatient non-shoppers are relieved to find a place to sit. Their mood shifts more positively and the begin to observe the surroundings. They soon notice the inviting displays and consider shopping with you, too (because you have invested time and good marketing principles in your merchandising and displays, right?).

Create a sense of welcome

You absolutely must train your staff to take a moment to engage with the seated! The power of interaction is immeasurable for positive reinforcement. Keep bottles of water and snacks on hand. It all goes together.

QR codes – a Marketing Opportunity not to be ignored

You can easily create QR code and signage to enable seated visitors (and everyone else):

  • to go to your website
  • to read your blog
  • to subscribe to your newsletter
  • to become a follower on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and all your other Social Media sites
  • to leave a review on sites like Yelp and more!

Give the seated an excuse to post or tweet about their experience waiting for their friends!

No money in the budget for a sturdy bench or chairs?

Buy used. Craigslist, Ebay, your local consignment store, used office furniture stores (very sturdy furniture), garage sales, … even your house!

Seating really is so simple and yet frequently dismissed. Don’t overlook it – especially through the holidays.

Google Plus – Hot or Not for Small Business?

Google Plus Hot or Not

More frequently, small business owners ask why I am a Google Plus proponent. They ask “…of everyone I ask – no one is on Google+ so why should I bother with it?”

I have previously blogged about this, but it bears repeating. Google Plus is GOLDEN for SMBs!

Don’t take too much stock in articles written by Google+ crapehangers. The majority naysayers are non-participants and/or superficially informed – or just copycat blogging.

If you are a small business owner, it is more important for you to consider the BENEFITS of using Google Plus rather than concern yourself with its popularity.

Get over the social media stereotype

Take note of the lack of pu$h for boo$ting or promoting your po$ts on Google Plus. Why? Because Google Plus wants your content, not your money. By having Google+, Google has a social media platform providing data they can’t get glean from website content.They want pure, unadulterated, and accessible source content.

Google Plus will grow.

Consider the beauty of a platform that showcases and integrates your content so well you WANT to participate. The more you use Google Plus, the more you’ll also want to use many Google apps and tools because of the convenience created by the integration.

As a business, remaining active on Facebook is essential because it is like the old yellow pages. In pre-social media days, your business had to be listed in the yellow pages or you “didn’t exist.”  And as long as Facebook is still the go-to for users looking up a business, you must remain there.

Google Plus and YouTube

Have you noticed how anxious Facebook now is to get you to upload your video shares directly to Facebook? They have promised a 30% higher visibility if you do. They realize that VIDEO is the new mode for social media – especially for business. Who currently OWNS video? YouTube. Who owns YouTube? Google. What is the #2 Search Engine in the world? YouTube. What’s the easiest way to share, repurpose, embed your videos? YouTube.

So, help me with this. You should want to upload directly to Facebook for the chance at a 30% boost in visibility in a follower limited Facebook news feed (which you could pay pennies to boost anyway)? In exchange, it will cost you dearly in search capability. And what about your YouTube Channel and subscribers, not to mention the limitations on repurposing that video!

And Google+ has made it exceptionally easy to repurpose YouTube videos on their platform. The more you use Google, the more content and use information they have to improve their search engine algorithms. Therefore, they want to keep you and make you happy.

Take advantage of this opportunity

  • Claim your business on Google Local Business and complete your Google+ Profile!
  • Add a cover photo reflecting your business personality and logo.
  • Complete your About Page
  • Upload photos of your storefront, your business in action, your products, your events, your staff, etc.,

And hey, while you’re there, why not take a shot at engaging with some of those supposedly non-existent G+ users? ;)

Don’t Fall for Facebook LIKE Scams

Look what I found in a Non-Profit’s Facebook messages! (see image)

BAD NEWS! This is clearly a scam.Warning Signals of Facebook Scam

3 BIG FLAGS!

  1. BAD GRAMMAR is always a big hint! Leaving out articles like “a” are common for foreigners trying to target Americans. Don’t overlook that as a typo.
  2. “NO ADVANCE PAYMENT REQUIRED” Really? Not only are the fees ridiculously low (lower than Facebook fees), but isn’t it just too STRANGE they DON’T NEED your money up front?
  3. NOTICE they didn’t ask for your email address, they want your EMAIL ID with Facebook. That’s why they don’t need your money up front.

If you give them YOUR EMAIL ID, they could have access to your Facebook account. If you are using ads for your small business or non-profit, you have provided Facebook with a payment method. If you provide access to your Facebook account, you are risking your credit card information to scammers!!!

Bottom line, if it looks too good, too easy, it’s not usually legit.

BE CAREFUL.

(Note: I am on the board of this local non-profit and manage their Facebook Page)

“What are You Doing?”…Facebook No Longer Cares

Facebook doesn't care what you are up to anymore

We’ve been doing it wrong?

Apparently we didn’t know we were doing Social Media wrong because Facebook has decided we need even more filtering of our news feed.

And all this time we thought Social Media was… hmm, how do you call it? Social???

But according to Facebook’s latest algorithm changes in process… social is supposed to be about what’s popular.

That’s right, the latest changes in Facebook algorithms to bleed out in the near future will pretty much make it close to impossible to hold sincere engagement with others if you want them to actually see your posts.  So Facebook is redefining social to mean fake “engagement based on trending topics” because THEY deem trending topics to be more what EVERYONE wants to see.

“Our goal with News Feed is to show everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them.”

“One way we show timely content higher up in News Feed is to show people stories about things that are trending as soon as they occur, so you can immediately know what your friends or favorite pages are saying about the stories of the day. “

What this really means is they want to be able to ensure those using ads to promote posts will have better success. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They do have to make money to support Facebook operations, and those doing ad-spends do deserve results. What bothers me is Facebook’s BS’ing process for the users.

High School all over again

Remember the down side of high school years? If you weren’t wearing the latest fashions, listening to the top 40 radio stations, seeing the right movies and tv shows, liking the right members of the opposite sex, and just plain popular, you were pretty much invisible, right? Well guess what? It’s baa-aaaaccckkk – courtesy of Facebook who for years has been asking Facebook page users “what have you been up to?” and Facebook profiles users “what’s on your mind?” But now, they are saying to us that “Nobody Cares” unless it’s trending!

Come on, Facebook, do your stockholders a favor and be up front about being a business and not just an online social hangout.

Hmmmmmmmm. So how does this new algorithm work now?

Ok, so let’s see now. According to the newest tools that assist in competing with these new algorithms (i.e., robots browsing for fake engagement), you are to:

  • Check what’s trending
  • Somehow attach your messaging to be congruent with a trending topic.
  • And better still, pick a quote meme to hang your tag to.

In other words, completely lose your personal or professional identity and follow the pack.

And your rankings will soar!

Hahahaha. Oh, wait a minute, they are serious?!

Facebook says I was wrong now

Geez, I am so sorry that i have been blogging for years about the necessity of sincerity of engagement to be successful in social media. And I am sorry to have led you astray sharing article upon article and discussions of audience barometers based on sincerity of engagement.

And my seminars on how Social Media is NOT just all about Justin Bieber and pop trending topics? All moot.

Oh, Facebook won’t say it out loud, but if they are creating algorithms to search for posts that discuss primarily trending topics means if you don’t include said topics in your posts, well…you’re screwed. Sorry folks, nobody cares what you are doing anymore, unless you are spending all your time on trending topics.

Looks like you doubting Thomases were right. Facebook is for mindless chatter after all.

Google Plus is looking better every day.

3 Reasons Facebook is for Playground Friends and Google Plus is for Grownups

I know, I know, the title is a bit of an insult … bear with me.

As I migrate to Google+, and as I learn that my Facebook friends don’t care to follow suit, I am beginning to understand why.

  1. Facebook has been in use for 10 years, Google+ for 3 years. Facebook has a huge learning curve lead over G+. This is a world of busy people and the saturation point of learning yet another app or program is nigh. Ergo, popular reluctance to venture into Google Plus, i.e., “Please don’t give me any more homework!”
  2. Google+ requires a Google Account. Although most Facebook users may have acquired a Gmail account and address, they may rarely use it. The majority of my own contact list reveals most of my contacts use company email addresses since many log on during their workday. Therefore, the less contact one has with their Google account in general, the less likely one may be to even notice Google Plus. Facebook users may also assume all their social needs are met on Facebook.
  3. Perhaps the strongest point relates to whether or not one is actively participating in social media for business. If one uses social media exclusively for personal use, there is little interest for another platform. Despite the fact that social media users deserve a better User Experience (UX) than Facebook (such as IS provided on Google Plus), most users commonly prefer a bird in the hand rather than two in the bush. But, SMB owners who ARE active on Social Media for their small businesses are far more likely to seek the superior benefits of Google+; especially for the SEO benefits to their search rankings.

But, alas, many SMB owners are often laggards in social media. And if they do participate, it is mostly via hire. Google Plus asks for genuine content from source. Fluff is not effective. Google Pus provides a superior platform for sincere engagement. Facebook falls shy.

Ergo, the analogy – Friends vs Grownups

Business Users desiring a respectful ROI from a social media platform search for maturity in a platform (both personally and professionally). Business growth does not occur randomly.

  • Facebook is a growing disappointment for brand awareness potential.
  • Facebook is exponentially squashing organic business post visibility.
  • Facebook users generally prefer comic relief from their stressful days, i.e., silly pet pictures and funny videos. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”*)

As a result, a business owner now thinks twice about investing valuable ad dollars for increased visibility on a platform (Facebook) which primarily attracts fans seeking pedestrian relief rather than thoughtful content.

Google Plus, on the other hand, has historically attracted those who seek more from their social media platform. Hobbyists, business owners, IT “geeks,” sports enthusiasts, amateur philosophers, science fans, photographers (G+ has amazing image quality), and more.

This means, a Google Plus audience seeks useful and thought-provoking content, or, valuable information that enhances interests and activities. One does not have to be cute or funny to get attention from G+ users. G+ users are actually embarrassed to comment with only a “great post” comment. On Google Plus, complete sentences and finished thoughts are the rule. Sure, G+ users love humor, too, but it is not required as it often is on Facebook. Google Plus has no character limit and images will show exactly as intended.

So what does this mean for the SMB owner who is considering G+ for business?

Users visit their G+ account less frequently than Facebook users because Google Plus content is more about quality, not quantity. You aren’t expected to post daily or multiple times daily as on Facebook. No one forgets you if you only post once a week or once a month. Scarcity is acceptable – as long as your posts are worth a user’s time. This means if you can keep the topic on interest on Google Plus, there is no need to entertain. Lack of frequency will not discount impact.

So, what is the future of social media platforms?

Personally, I believe Facebook is sounding its own death knell through its recent “Monkey See, Monkey Do” approach for monetization. They are more worried about their stockholders than their users (and in a bass-ackwards way). Google+ will surely surpass expectations as its growth is currently exponential. People tire of sameness and don’t appreciate Facebook’s disregard for personal and business UX.

How else is Monkey See Monkey Do Screwing up Facebook?

  • They see Twitter as a popular go-to news source, so decide to add top news stories in feeds.
  • They see the attractiveness of Google+ YouTube videos auto-play, so they are promoting a “post your video straight to Facebook” campaign.
  • They see the growth of Instant Video and Messaging and create Facebook Messenger. And, of course, Messenger will soon have its own avenues for monetization.

Messenger is a lame attempt at best (imho) to duplicate the many uses of G+ Hangouts and HOAs (G+ hangouts on air) as Android use becomes more dominant. Facebook should have stuck to promoting Instagram.

The familiarity and convenience factor for which users hang on to Facebook is being slowly diluted by Facebook itself.

Stupid.

Yes, Facebook, alienate your brand and personal users by screwing with everything users like about Facebook because you have lost sight of your mission and are scrambling for profits. A shortsighted method for continued success to be sure.

If you are already on Google Plus, we invite you to join Small Business Smart Marketing Talk Google Community.

*Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” http://youtu.be/Oj3VphK9AMk

Boomer SMB Owners Tell Me S/He Can’t Do Social Media…

MS-DOS Command line
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS

Nothing, and I mean nothing, including social media, is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. . .

Since my business demographic is primarily boomers, I know better. I’m a boomer, too. And I know full well that we boomers had to conquer and endure the pioneering stages of modern technology. Nothing, and I mean nothing, today is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials don’t have a clue what a nightmare it was to work on a black screen with green letters and no graphics, no mouse. They never had to learn commands or have ever seen “A:” , or had to save content on multiple floppy disks, and most never sat in front of a v e r y  s l o w CRT that emitted unhealthy rays!

So, Back to the Boomers

So when these boomers who cut their computer teeth on difficult, dinosaur technology are telling me that social media is just too hard to take the time to learn  – –  sorry, but I’m not biting!

What I think happened to these otherwise savvy entrepreneurs, is when they began their businesses, technology was in an ever-changing mode. Obsolescence was the norm, and many were hesitant to invest in expensive technology that would most likely be outdated before it collected dust. Starting a new business means watching every nickel; technology avoidance and frugality became almost a badge of honor.

Culture Shock

Then, before these entrepreneurs knew what hit them, all of a sudden they were far, far behind others who had the time to keep up. In addition, any technology to be learned had to center around POS and bookkeeping. The learning curve on those was a bit time-consuming for owners, not to mention the time required to train staff. Who had time to jump into the social media craze while trying to run a business?

But now – da-da-DUM – there is no escaping social media for small business marketing. While it, too, experienced its versions of continuous obsolescence, social media has settled in as the most viable and affordable marketing vehicle for SMBs.

What I am finding is the biggest obstacle to success in social media, is that most successful entrepreneurs are classic introverts, even hermits. They live, eat, drink, and breathe their business to the point of no social life, but they like that! So of course they feel awkward trying to enter a SOCIAL medium that expects casual interaction.

So, yes, it is good to hire help, but it is also good to use that help to learn social media. WHY? Because social media is not successful unless the fans get to see what goes on behind the front doors. And if you don’t provide behind the scenes material (content, images, customer testimonials, etc.), then you are simply keeping a social media account alive with memes, quotes, product images – yawn……..

My best social media analogy?

Think of how many times you have driven by a small business and felt a tinge of apprehension about pulling in and checking it out. Why?

Because we don’t like to explore the unknown, especially when it has potential to waste our valuable time or money. Your social media fans are no different. They want some behind the scenes peeks at who you are, what you do, why you sell what you sell, what makes you different, and how will it FEEL to shop or do business with you!

Damn, you don’t have to marry these fans! Just like your customers, people just need to get to know each other! And that’s why social media works for those who do make the effort to put themselves out there for fans! Does that make sense?!